Updated September 03, 2013.
Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com’s Medical Review Board.
Prom is one of the biggest nights of your high school life. But it’s hard to enjoy the experience if you’re worried about acne on prom night.
What can be done to clear acne before the prom? Here are seven tips that will help your skin look its best.
If you’ve been neglecting your skin, don’t wait another day to start on a skin care routine. Good skin care will help your skin to look and feel better every day.
A healthy skin care routine includes regular cleansing, gentle exfoliation, application of an oil-free moisturizer (if needed), and daily sunscreen use. Skin care products containing salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur, and/or resorcinol effectively treat acne at the same time.
While clean skin is good, vigorous scrubbing is not. Pimples aren’t caused by dirt anyway and, for what it’s worth, can’t be scrubbed away.
Don’t over-cleanse your skin, either. Over-cleansing can strip the skin, leaving your skin excessively dry, red and irritated.
A twice-a-day cleansing routine is sufficient for most people. Throw in a third cleansing only if needed, like after gym class or sports practice.
2. See a Doctor
Is your acne is moderate to severe? Is it inflamed? Have you tried over-the-counter products in the past without seeing results?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s time to call your doctor. A prescription medication is probably needed to get your acne under control.
Time can be your enemy here, especially if prom season is on its way. It can take several weeks before you see a noticeable improvement of your skin. Starting on an acne medication three days before prom won’t give you the results you want. The earlier you get started, the better your chances for clear skin in time for prom.
If you don’t already have a dermatologist, put in a call your family doctor first. Most family practitioners and pediatricians are familiar with treating acne and will give you a referral to a dermatologist, if need be.
You can also talk to your doctor about getting a corticosteroid injection, if a huge zit makes its appearance just before prom night. Commonly called “steroid shots,” this simple procedure can flatten out big pimples quickly.
3. Stop Popping
You’ve heard it a million times from your mother, but you’re going to hear it again — don’t pop pimples. Ever.
It may be satisfying, but it also damages your skin. When you squeeze a pimple, you can push infected material deeper into the skin. It also increases the possibility that the pimple will leave a scar.
And yes, popping pimples does make acne worse. Squeezing that pimple can easily turn it into an even larger, inflamed blemish.
As tempting as it may be, leave pimples alone and allow them to heal. If you must do something, try a spot treatment.
Got blackheads? They’re super common, especially on teen skin. A good skin care routine and comedolytic product can help clear blackheads.
Still, with prom coming up, you may not have time to wait. You’ll need to quickly improve the look of blackheads while waiting for blemish treatments to kick in.
Try going to a salon to have them extracted. Warning: Don’t have extractions done within a week of the prom. They can leave you red and blotchy, and facials can trigger a breakout in some people.
Those pore cleansing strips are another quick-fix. They don’t treat blackheads per se, and they do nothing to prevent them from forming. They do, however, remove the top “plug” of the blackhead, leaving the skin looking smoother.
Read More: 9 Blackhead Treatments To Try
A low cut dress and ” bacne “? Don’t stress. Acne on the back and body can be controlled, too.
Start using an acne-fighting body wash (or bar) containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Make sure you shower as soon as possible after exercising, since sweat can irritate breakouts.
Sometimes body breakouts are caused by a form of acne called acne mechanica. Suspect acne mechanica if breakouts occur in areas where athletic equipment, backpacks, or other gear rests.
Read More: All About Body Acne
If you’re like most teens, your skin is super oily. This is totally normal, though any teen would pass on immortalizing a shiny face in prom pictures if given the choice.
Reducing the look of oily shine isn’t hard with the right steps. Again, cleansing the face regularly will go a long way in keeping excess oil in check. Using an oil-busting mask and an astringent toner the day of the prom will make the skin look more matte.
During the prom, you can carry a packet of rice paper oil blotters to dab up oil throughout the night. (Your local cosmetics store should carry them, or check online retailers.) And while it sounds a little strange, toilet seat covers work the same way. You can use them instead / in a pinch, and use the money you save on your dress or tux.
Read More: Treating Acne in Oily Skin
7. Cover It Up
Pimples always have a way of popping up at the worst possible times. If that inopportune breakout occurs before prom, you can cover it up.
Practice your makeup look before the big night, including products like concealer and green primers (to counteract red blemishes) in your regimen. A tiny amount of well-placed concealer and a dusting of powder can do a lot to camouflage breakouts.
Guys — a dab of tinted moisturizer can help tone down blemishes without making you feel like you’re “made up.” Tinted moisturizers can be found in the skin care aisle at any drugstore. And, if you’re game, there are also plenty of concealers made just for guys too.
Read More: Bargain Blemish Concealers
Most of all remember that, breakout or not, it’s a positive attitude that makes you shine!
For all things prom, check out About.com’s Prom Site.